At 10:00 AM
on March 24, 1945, a literal "sky train" of two and one-half hours in
length flew in 226 C-47 and 72 C-46 transport planes carrying 17,122
paratroopers together with 906 gliders being pulled by 610 C-47 tow planes.
Robert L. Wilson jumped from the lead serial of planes in this largest airborne
assault in military history. He landed in the designated drop zone near Wesel.
There, with others in "Branigan's Bastard Battalion," - the 464th
Parachute Field Artillery Battalion - he made history as part of the first
artillery airborne outfit to land, reassemble, and fire their howitzer's east
of the Rhine River.
Marshall Montgomery, who had elaborately orchestrated this airborne assault,
gathered Prime Minister Churchill together with Generals Eisenhower, Ridgway,
and Brereton on the western bank of the Rhine to watch the air spectacle
unfold. The objectives of this airborne assault - Operation Varsity - were
achieved predominantly through the efforts of the U.S. 17th and British 6th Airborne
copy, 244 pages, Robert L. Wilson and Philip K. Wilson]